15th annual Breakfast with the Arts & Hospitality focuses on cultural tourism

Written By Melina De Rose
May 7, 2019 at 8:25 PM

Coffee flowed freely Monday morning at the Bayfront Ballroom in the Intercontinental Miami, and many of the 150-plus attendees of the 15th annual Breakfast with the Arts & Hospitality availed themselves of it. For the sleep-deprived, however, one cup was likely enough, as Delou Africa, the Miami-based dance-and-drum group that opened the gathering, provided enough of a jolt to the senses to keep everyone in the room wide-eyed and alert well into the afternoon. 

Delou Africa, which on this morning featured three drummers and two dancers, welcomed leaders from Miami-Dade County’s arts and hospitality communities to the breakfast with a commanding display of music and movement that resounded across the ballroom. The performance dovetailed with the meeting’s oft-stated message: The arts economy in Miami is strong and getting stronger, and it is impossible to ignore. 

This theme echoed throughout the opening remarks of Robert Hill, general manager of Intercontinental Miami; George Neary, founder of Tours R Us Miami; and Sebastien Laboureau, resident art adviser at the Sagamore Hotel Miami Beach and the Arts & Business Council of Miami’s chair emeritus. The event was presented by the Arts & Business Council, the Intercontinental and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“Arts and business connected together, which is what we’re doing here today,” Hill told the audience, “has continued the evolution of what Miami is today and we will continue that evolution in the years to come.”

Or as Laboureau succinctly put it moments earlier: “A strong cultural community is good for business.” The morning was all about exploring profitable partnerships and connections. 

Speakers and panelists at the 15th annual Breakfast with the Arts & Hospitality included, from left, John Copeland, Robert Hill, Carol Henderson, Mike Kovensky, Joseph Quiñones and George Neary. Photo courtesy Lakiesha Nicole LLC.

Cultural tourism is a lucrative market in Miami-Dade County. The latest initiative to amplify cultural tourism was the focus of the morning’s panel discussion. Moderated by John Copeland, the Convention & Visitors Bureau’s director of cultural tourism, the panel included Carol Henderson, vice president of business development for Brightline (soon to be known as Virgin Trains USA); Joseph Quiñones, vice president of marketing at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science; and Mike Kovensky, the Intercontinental Miami’s director of sales and marketing. 

Their respective companies and organizations are participating in the inaugural Miami Culture Seeker Package, which includes a stay at the Intercontinental hotel, passes to the Frost Museum and roundtrip tickets on Brightline/Virgin Trains USA. 

The idea, Copeland said, is to encourage Miami staycations, particularly among people who live only a county or two away.

“In conjunction with the Bureau and the Arts & Business Council, we have worked with some of our business partners to design a package to entice our neighbors in Broward and Palm Beach to spend an arts weekend in Miami,” Copeland said.

Kovensky, who lives in Delray Beach, added: “If you look at how Miami has grown in the arts and culture spheres, I believe we have created an experience that is unmatched in the tricounty area.” 

Henderson, who noted that Brightline/Virgin Trains USA is celebrating its first anniversary in May and that the company is drawing 100,000 passengers a month, said, “One of the things we’ve heard from some of the folks riding the train is that they wanted to come into Miami and they wanted us to tell them where to go, as many of these people have not ventured across the line between Broward and Dade County. So we’ve created some ideas for them and experiences.”

The Frost Museum’s Quiñones, meanwhile, hopes the promotion will calm the nerves of Broward and Palm Beach residents who are intimated by Miami. “Downtown Miami still has this challenge with people who don’t live here,” he said. “And they say, ‘Where am I going to park? How am I going to get there? What’s the traffic situation like?’ So a package like this makes it easy for them.”

Laura Bruney, president and CEO of the Arts & Business Council of Miami, said her organization previously worked with Henderson and Brightline on a program called Take the Train to the Arts and that the Culture Seeker Package makes for a logical followup.

“The Arts & Business Council is excited to partner with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau to amplify cultural tourism,” Bruney said. “The Culture Seeker Package is a great opportunity to entice our neighbors from Broward and Palm Beach to Miami for an artsy ‘staycation.’ This innovative package is our first step. There are more than 30 art experiences near Brightline/Virgin’s MiamiCentral Station and dozens of hotels and restaurants we can package into memorable memories.”

For more information on the Miami Culture Seeker Package, go to the Intercontinental Miami website.

Top photo: Members of Delou Africa pose with attendees of the 15th annual Breakfast with the Arts & Hospitality. Photo courtesy Lakiesha Nicole LLC.

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